Just how prepared are we for a natural disaster?

By Julia Proverbs

About half of Tauranga people are not prepared for a natural disaster, a Bay of Plenty Times Weekend survey shows.

Of the 100 people surveyed, 56 said they did not have an evacuation plan and 45 did not have a survival kit.

The survey of people in the Tauranga phonebook, undertaken this week, came after Sunday's Wellington earthquake that left people injured and buildings and other property damaged.

The disasters that most worried people were earthquakes (43) and tsunamis (30), followed by floods (10) and eruptions (7). Ten people were not worried.

However, people's preparedness has risen since a similar telephone survey of 250 people by the Bay of Plenty Times three years ago, after the release of tsunami maps.

The 2010 survey indicated only 20 per cent of Tauranga people had evacuation plans and 29 per cent had survival kits.

The most feared natural disaster then was tsunamis (57 per cent), followed by earthquakes (31 per cent).

The increased fear of earthquakes over the past three years undoubtedly stems from the devastating Christchurch quake in February 2011 and the swarm of quakes now centred off the Marlborough coast.

Tauranga and Western Bay Civil Defence emergency management operations manager Alan Pearce said the figures were ''encouraging'' but advised those who did not already have evacuation

Alan Pearce, Civil Defence plans and kits to take action.

''Perhaps the recent events in Wellington have heightened awareness about earthquakes but, nevertheless, it is important to consider all potential natural disasters and people should remind themselves to have a getaway plan and a getaway kit,'' he said.

A risk of quakes existed in the Bay, as it did throughout New Zealand, and people should be ready: ''It's better to be prepared than not.''

Volcanologist Brad Scott, of GNS Science in Taupo, said there were t hree major geological structures near Tauranga that had many faults associated with them.

A lengthy fault ran from the Firth of Thames inland toward an area west of Matamata.

''It lies outside the Bay of Plenty region but, as we saw with the Seddon quake, which was felt in Wellington, they do not respect political boundaries,'' Mr Scott said.

The Taupo Fault Belt was responsible for the magnitude 6.3 Edgecumbe quake in 1987, and to the east the North Island Shear Belt extended from East Cape to Wellington.

''Known earthquake faulting areas are always recognised as primary sources of earthquakes,'' Mr Scott said.

However, in between these structures there was still an undetermined level of risk from unrecognised or unknown fault structures.

The Bay of Plenty Regional Council said a quake that was felt widely but caused only minor damage could be expected every 10 years, a moderate to strong earthquake every 42 years and an earthquake causing serious damage every 150 to 180 years.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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